PHILIPSBURG – Minister of Education Silveria Jacobs explained the rationale for the Ministry suspending the tender with school busses on St. Maarten.
The Ministry and School Bus Owners Association (SBOA) have been in discussion about a change in government policy governing the functions of school busses. Initially, the SBOA was against the proposed changes in regulations, arguing this would affect the livelihood of the bus drivers.
However, the Minister argued that the changes were necessary to create a more efficient and cost effective system and proper accounting of public funds.
Minister Jacobs explained that in the past the Ministry of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Traffic and Telecommunication (TEATT) would have negotiated with the bus drivers, however, it was always the Ministry of Education that had to pay the bill. “For years, this has been an issue between the two ministries in terms of who is executing. What are the roles that each ministry has to play,” the Minister said. “We had indicated as a Ministry over the years…it is a responsibility we need to negotiate….the bills were ours, but the decision making was not.”
She noted that the SBOA was negotiating with both ministries and thus it was not feasible for the Ministry of Education to still have a tender. Additionally, rather than both ministries sending mixed messages, it would be prudent to have the tender suspended, Jacobs explained.
“We have retracted the tender in order to cooperate and collaborate with the Ministry TEATT so that we all would be singing the same song, with the same choir in the same pews,” she said. “Both ministries will be meeting to come to a consensus as to what exactly we are going to be doing going forward,” Minister Jacobs stated.